The Wise Men 2:1-12 (Part 2)
Then there’s the star. There have been many attempts to explain this phenomenal aberration. Some commentators refer to Halley’s Comet (11 BC), or to the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter (7 BC). Other talk of the Egyptian “dog star” (Sirius) that rose at sunrise.
My view on the star is heavily influenced by v. 10, “When they saw the star they were overjoyed” (NIV), or as the KJV puts it, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” The Greek word for “exceeding” is “sphodia” which means “excessive” or “violent”. Why the excess of joy? After all this “star” had accompanied them for over a year of travel. Could it be that once it led the Magi to Jerusalem, it dimmed, or left them altogether? If it did disappear they would have been both perplexed and disturbed. They hadn’t seen the new “king” yet. Was the journey and the expense in vain?
The fact that it reappeared to lead them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (a mere 5 miles) indicates that it may have been a bright light only hundreds of feet above and in front off them. Halley’s Comet or Saturn and Jupiter would never be able to direct anybody for such a short distance. It may have been a supernatural phenomenon like the “pillar of cloud by day” and the “pillar of fire by night” (Ex. 13:21) that led the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land. After all, if God is God, the supernatural is his stock-in-trade.